Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sounds Fancy: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Sometimes I wish I were a comic book nerd.

No, scratch that.

I'm a nerd of many things, but I often wonder what I would be like if I added comic books to my repertoire.

For the most part, my nerdism factors around my movie knowledge, videogame prowess, and DVD collection, as well as my predilection toward expensive gadgetry.

My interests in movies (and the review of said items) sometimes means that I see this new craze of turning old comic-book heroes into silver screen saviors as something of a fad.

And when have fads ever been a good thing? I mean seriously, do you remember Tamagotchi?

But some movies have really stood out in this genre. Spider-Man, X-Men, and even some sleepers like The Punisher really changed the way we think of comic book superheroes.

Batman Begins revived a nearly dead series, recasting it in a new, darker image into which fans eagerly sunk their braces-covered teeth.

But sometimes things don't really work out that well. Sometimes, directors don't quite bring the source material to life.

In the original "Fantastic Four", director Tim Story decided on a faster pace for the characters and a generally cartoonish style of action. This made the movie fit in better with the old animated series than the original comics.

For those of you who don't know much about comics (I'm looking at you, Wyoming), allow me to put in my two cents.

Stan Lee is a genius.

This man created so many of the seminal characters of comic fandom that he has been proclaimed by many to be a god.

Not THE G-d, but a lesser diety.

He had his own TV show where people made asses of themselves in order to please the great Stan Lee.

Granted, it all fit in so well that the show is heading on to its second season. I guess when you have people doing super things instead of eating bugs or dating prostitutes, you get good television.

The Fantastic Four, and really all the Marvel comics, were dark and humerous at the same time. They had super villains but mundane troubles in the same bubblegum-smelling pages.

In the original movie, writer Mark Frost brought the original BAMF of villainy, Dr. Doom.

Let's just say that together, class.

Dr. (as in man who possesses a PHD in some subject) Doom (the end of all things).

Played by Julian McMahon of "Nip/Tuck", Dr. Doom kicked much in the way of Fantastic ass on the screen. His lines were cornier than a Sylvester Stallone "dramatic moment", but you still loved to hate the guy.

The characters weren't very interesting, though you did care a little for Michael Chiklis as the Thing. The Human Torch (Chris Evans from "Cellular") was a fine comic relief, and Jessica Alba was really hot.

I didn't think the original movie was that great. I think the effects were too cartoony to be taken seriously with the rest of the film. I thought the dialogue was about as bad as could be managed with actors speaking their own language.

Still, I was willing to give the sequel a shot.

Enter Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Again, the special effects seem a little too cartoonish, though the magic wizards at Spectral Motion certainly aimed a little higher than the last film. Though Mr. Fantastic still looks pretty bland stretching to and fro, the rest of the film has a darker mentality.

The story focuses on a few small details all coming together.

Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are trying to tie the knot, but things keep getting in the way. Being celebrity superheroes isn't easy on matrimonial life.

The Human Torch is starting to recognize his position as a loner. The Thing is...well, he's a giant rock. What do you want him to do?

Meanwhile, a silver man on a surfboard arrives to herald the end of Earth via the super-galactic being of Death, Galactus.

So basically it's same old same old for the Fantastic Four.

While I did enjoy the humor of the movie, the serious moments never pan out. In fact, I often wonder why they tried to put them in here in the first place.

The wedding is a fiasco, and the future Mrs. Fantastic can't stop those tears from welling. Torch boy has his moments of pondering whistfully while staring at the moon. People make faces that are meant to convey sorrow but really only border on bad sushi.

The humor, on the other hand, works more often than not. Chris Evans has great timing when delivering his lines. My favorite was his question to The Thing about his relationship with Alicia Masters. "I'm just worried I'll wake up and she'll have died in a land slide."

While the main players haven't changed much, the new arrival is quite something. Doug Jones, the rubbber man from such suits as Pan's Labyrinth performs the body works while Lawrence Fishburn (you know where he's from, don't mock me) voices the mercurial menace.

The Silver Surfer is awesome, with his stony face and structurally questionable physique. His movements are smooth and fit well with the characters around him, while at the same time making him appear otherworldly.

Now, I don't really want to spoil much for you here. This film has flaws, and in fact is about as average and underwhelming as I expected, but in a world where Jessica Alba is willing to put on spandex and prance around for us all, why are we asking such questions as "did they really just charge me $10 for popcorn?"

This movie won't win any awards. And I mean any. But give it a try and see if you can look past the poor dialogue and corny acting.

And cartoonish special effects.

And lackluster ending.

And lack of more Jessica Alba.

And...oh hell, just see it and judge for yourself.

For myself, I give this movie a solid five stars.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to watch "House."

It's simply a marvelous show.

Watch carefully.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Small Parts May Choke Everyone: Dollman vs the Demonic Toys

This review is dedicated to my sister, who is a witch and eats young children.

Sometimes people make really terrible movies. This is a fact you loyal readers should already be aware of.

But once in a blue moon, producers do something really awful.

I mean, it's Biblical.

"Voodoo Moon" comes to mind.

Let me tell you a story, because I know you're interested.

When I was a young lad (bucking, one could say) around the same time that me and my sister discovered "Killer Klowns from Outer Space," we found a little movie.

It was called "Dollman vs the Demonic Toys".

Now, I thought that this was just a bad idea complementing other bad ideas, but I was very wrong.

This was, in fact, three movies combining to make one awful sequel.

"Dollman", as best I remember, is about a futuristic cop (or maybe transdimensional) who shrinks and fights...robots?

I won't lie, I only made it through the first few scenes before my brain shutdown--that's a safety mechanism to keep me from getting brain damage.

"Demonic Toys" is basically a huge rip-off of "Puppet Master". Toys, made by the Devil, come to life to kill a bunch of--you guessed it--oversexed teens.

The last of the trilogy of tripe is "Bad Channels."

Let's see. videos...nurses in skimpy outfits...zombies?

Somehow, all of this leads to a woman shrunk in a jar. Really, it's all that simple.

The film was nuts, but did have some of the most randomly entertaining songs you'll never hear anywhere else. It may have been the first truly awful film prequel I'd seen.

Combine these elements and you have something beyond words.

"Dollman vs the Demonic Toys"

So I can't recall much about this movie because, for the life of me, I can't find a copy to watch.

It appears the FDA and CDC removed all copies from Blockbuster and Netflix in order to prevent a catastrophic outbreak of herpes--herpes of the brain.

Thus I will attempt to remember as much as I can.

Dollman takes on these toys, demonic as they are, in some sort of shopping center/mall. As every single character in this film is shrunken or manufactured by the Morning Star, every set is a mock-enlarged world.

Desktops and notebooks stand as mountains over the actors. Pencils become lethal weapons, and a Barbie (R) mansion is...well, a mansion.

Tim Thomerson plays Dollman, firing his laser pistol from the hip at the Jack in the Box demon as he dodges from Playschool (R) playset to Tinkertoys (R). If he made any hilarious one-liners, I can't recall them at this time. Needless to say, Jack Bauer he is NOT.

His girlfriend (read: the only girl on the planet who beleives "size doesn't matter" when the man is a half a foo tall) is Judith Gray from "Bad Channels". She plays the role of damsel in distress, getting picked up by demonic toy after demonic toy all in the pursuit of giving this movie a plot.

She fails at that goal, but looks good in torn clothing so it's all forgivable.

The leader of the demonic toys is Baby Oopsie-Daisy.

Take a minute with that one. In fact, take a break from this blog, go for a run, eat some sushi, and come back with a fresh perspective.

This is literally a doll that pees turned evil by demonic possession. It's definitely one of the seven signs of the coming End of Days.

The plot centers around the return of the evil seed, Lucifer, via Judith Gray's microscopic womb. The father of the bastardly abomination is the baby-faced doll.

But, alas, though he can pee, he isn't exactly...ahem..."equipped" for this mission.

Thankfully the Lord of Darkness has a magical spell that converts plastic parts into...well, let's just say a choking hazard label doesn't cover this particular item.

From what little I remember of this movie, the scene where Baby OD get's his l'l Louisville slugger is priceless. Thunder and lightning and a tiny smiling baby shouting "I'm changing! I'm changing!"

And then the love scene.

I'm kidding, there isn't any puppet porn in this particular film experience. Instead, you get to watch a shrunken woman kick a baby doll in the nuts.

As MasterCard would say, "priceless."

This movie was basically the worst idea out of three terrible ideas. It was a bowl obstruction in a seventy-year-old man during his bimonthly enema. It was the most powerful form of failure in democracy since William Taft's bill on pork barreling.

Basically it was as bad as anything that has ever seen the light of day.

This was worse than Casper Van Deen as Tarzan.

Some people like to equate this movie to any other cult classic. That is a falicy.

Cult classics tend to, oh I don't know, have redeeming qualities. "Army of Darkness" is a cult classic because it is, without a doubt, the manliest zombie-fest in our history.

But this...tripe, this filth can't be called anything but a vicious joke on the movie-going public.

Watching this film should only be attempted in a controlled environment, with medical personnel on standby.

Still, I can't help but wonder what it would be like to sit down and attempt viewage one more time. As I mentioned before, Netflix is woefully unable to provide me with this arsenic, so I ask for anyone out there to find a copy.

Don't watch it, I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but tell me where to find it and I will do a proper review, rather than this nostalgic rumination.

I have some more material coming up as the summer movie crapfest continues with trilogy after trilogy.

Keep safe, and, as always,

Watch carefully.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summer Movie Fun Times

It's summer time.

That last sentence was for those of you who live inside caves somewhere in the middle of Antarctica and, though you have the use of the internet, sometimes you need a reminder of the seasons as you always appear to be in the middle of Winter's colon.

As I have not seen anything new and awful in quite some time (barring the most recent episode of "Who Wants to Date My Dead Goldfish") so I've decided to give you all (my fifteen person audience) a chance to change the course of Blog history.


That's right, I'm taking suggestions. And no, this isn't just a ploy to force me into less work. This is a chance for all of you to pick your favorite worst movie and have me give it a whirl.

I will still review anything bad I happen across, but this is a treat for all of you out there, so go ahead and let fly.

And, as always,

Watch carefully.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

From the Makers of 24--2: The Sentinel

Some spoilers ahead

I am a huge fan of "24."

I say this in order to set the tone for the rest of this review.

Most people view the show as more crazy conservative programming from FOX. And that's all well and good, but it's much more than that.

"24" is a statement of machismo and glory that surpasses all other television programs, including other staples of mine such as "Battlestar Galactica", "Prison Break" and "Firefly." In each hour of the action-packed day, Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland of all that is badass) draws in attention like a magnet.

It's honestly amazing what the writers pack into each day (though, I will concede that this last day did suck just a wee bit).

So when a movie comes out starring Mister Sutherland as a big time Secret Service man, with Michael Douglas in for the ride no less, I couldn't say no.

Actually, I said "no" for a long time, mainly because the ratings were as poor as can be.

But now, given the new freedom summertime has alotted me, I dove into the movie with a mind set toward darkness and bags of awful dialogue.

And I wasn't entirely disappointed.

"The Sentinel" is a below-average political thriller wrapped in a below-average action movie.

It's very hard to make a political thriller nowadays without pissing off half the country. "24" consistently touches on hot-button issues such as Islamic fanatics, torture of terrorists and the ability of a sitting president to sleep with or without his wife.

But "The Sentinel" plays it safe and dredges up a bad guy from beyond the grave, namely the KGB.

For those of you who never watched a James Bond film before "Tomorrow Never Dies" (and shame on all of you), the KGB stands for Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, which is Russian for "Super Secret Spy and Torture of Dissidents Agency Which May or May Not Kill Everyone in a Vain Attempt at Covering Our Failing Country's Great Flaws and Failures."

The KGB squared off against our own CIA for the many years of the Cold War (if you still don't know what's going on, punch yourself until I stop laughing). In this film, for some reason, some guy with some connection to the KGB (no, that's never explained) wants the president dead (again, for reasons we don't fully comprehend.

Somehow he has a man inside the Secret Service, those sunglasses-wearing, square-jawed BAMFs we always see around the president. The idea of getting a man on the inside the Secret-F-ing-Service is a pretty big stretch, but you haven't even seen the movie yet, so you have no idea how far it goes.

The star of the film is Michael Douglas, who plays the role of Agent Pete Garrison, the head of the First Lady's detail, and her man on the side. His long career was punctuated by a few rounds taken in the service of President Reagen. Now he spends his time joking around with old friends and diddling the most powerful woman in office.

Now the Secret Service is not only a security team for the president, they also have an incredible team of investigators working out of the Treasury. In this case, the head investigator is a hotshot agent named David Breckenridge, but you can call him Jack.

That's right. Jack Bauer is the co-star of this movie.

Don't let the name they've given him fool you. Jackie's been known to take on aliases in order to penetrate the highest levels of governments. In this case, he's on the inside of our own Secret Service, looking for dirt and coming up with both hands full.

His mannerisms, his looks, even the way he draws his weapon and fires at the baddies is all signature Jack B. They stop having his character addressed by any name just you don't have to remind yourself that this is in fact Jack Bauer and not some stupid David person.

So here's how it all goes down.

An informant drops some information on Pete's lap that intimates an imminent assassination attempt on the president. Pete begins the investigation, but all the evidence soon points to him.

What happens next is a high-octane chase remenicient of "The Fugitive" only with less acting. Pete is one of the best trained agents the Secret Service has ever had, and now he has to use all of his skills against his own in order to survive.

Jack is always one step behind, sometimes even arriving at the same building only seconds after Pete leaves. They have some sordid personal history that serves to instigate a few shoving matches and is politely forgotten when the audience realizes they never gave a crap.

The action, for the most part, is pretty dry. The "shoot-outs" last slightly longer than they would in reality, but too short to really grab the adrenal glands and squeeze. The director didn't know whether to go for realism or punchy action, and the mix doesn't really work.

In fact, a lot doesn't work. There are moments when the writers didn't know how to segue to another scene, so they opted not to. Scenes just follow each other the viewer is meant to figure it out.

News flash, writers. THIS DOESN'T WORK!

People don't go to movies in order to put together intricate puzzles. And even if we did, we don't want a three thousand piece puzzle with half the picture missing.

One of the highlights of this movie (aside from the startling fact that Kim Basinger is still a striking and gorgeous woman of 80) is Eva Longoria. Honestly, I don't know why she's in this movie.

True, she's absolutely the most beautiful woman in a Secret Service movie this summer, but her character doesn't add anything to the plot. She acts mainyl as a bridge character, constantly forgoing her own investigation to chat with fugitive Pete about how he needs to turn himself in.

She also tries to get to know Jack B., but he's too jaded from years of pain to be interested.

I don't know what to tell you guys, this film lacked a lot. I liked the fact that it paid a little homage to the shadows behind all great men, the Secret Service. There are few movies that even acknowledge these heroic people, and it's high time someone took notice.

Granted, they do it poorly, but I give an A for effort.

This movie really needed a better action director and a few more writers, but it does a passable job of retelling a story Tom Clancy probably wrote in his sleep, then forgot because it was so below his usual standards of excellence.

I give this film four stars for Eva Longoria, Kim Basinger, Michael Douglas and Jack B--I mean Keifer Sutherland.

Watch carefully.